Tuesday Talks – Interview with Naomi Jackson

Today we have a wonderful treat. Naomi Jackson is here to tell us a little bit about here and her new book,  Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are. Naomi writes children’s books and I am really excited to learn more! Hello, Naomi  Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

Hello! I’m Naomi Jackson! I live in southern Florida with my parents, three sisters, two cats, and fourteen houseplants. I was homeschooled along with my siblings, which means I grew up having lots of opportunities to experience and learn about interesting things. Some of my favorite memories are of our unit studies, where we would come at a time in history from every angle. We would read books, draw pictures, create sculptors, and of course write!

After I graduated high school, I went to the Bill Rice Bible Institute, where I studied Bible and Children’s Ministry. Now I spend a lot of time going to the library, running around barefoot outside, and writing endless books. Oh, and reading and watching Death in Paradise and eating dark chocolate are also high on my list of preferred activities!

What’s your favorite genre to read and write?

I write children’s fantasy! But I also tend to be very picky when it comes to what I like and what I don’t—I’m really a nightmare of a reader because I gripe about every flaw! Because of that, I tend to read mostly non-fiction when I want to just relax and learn. On the positive side, though, when I find a children’s book I love, I’m its biggest fan and champion!

What made you start writing this genre? What age did you realize you loved books?

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis! I read all seven books the month I turned ten, and from that moment on I knew I wanted to write books with amazing worlds. Ten was about the same age I became a book piranha (my dad’s nickname for me!). I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on, from Winnie the Pooh to The Art of War.

 Who is your favorite author?

I love CS Lewis, obviously, but I also have a deep admiration for Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, EB White, and Kenneth Grahame.

Tell us about this book. What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are is a story about a girl named Mavis who is very sick, and her brother, Roger, who is very worried about her. Mavis is desperately tired of being bedridden, so she makes a wish that she could go on an adventure. Well, someone grants Mavis’ wish by giving her a ticket to a magical train to a place called Otherworld! It’s a very sweet story, maybe a little sad, about the love that family has for one another and how unexpected things can bring hope into our lives. And about a beautiful world—I really enjoyed creating Otherworld and filling it full of gorgeous places and people.

I learned so much about myself writing this book—I hardly know where to start! I was bedridden when I was the same age as Mavis is in the story, so a lot of this comes from my own experience. Writing the story ended up being very emotional for me, as I dealt with a lot of the grief and fear that my sisters and I had had to deal with. But it was also very healing, and I think that comes through in the story.

Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?

I hate outlines! Ha! I really just gather a collection of scenes—like little clips from a movie that only plays in my head—and then I start writing and I don’t stop until the story is done.

Is there a special place you like to write?

I like to write in bed, propped up with pillows, one of my cats at my feet. It started back when I was bedridden, but even now that I’m better, I find I write best when I’m all comfy. Of course, that’s my ideal place to write. In practice, I do a lot of my writing sitting on the couch while my family swirls about me loud with life. It’s harder to concentrate, but it’s very rewarding!

What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?

I really didn’t expect the ending—Roger does something very brave and yet very foolish, and it really took my breath away. (I can’t say anything else about it without spoiling the ending! Sorry!)

What character do you like best?

Mavis will always have a soft spot in my heart, but I have to admit I like Roger best. *looks over shoulder to make sure other characters didn’t hear her*

What advice would you give a new author?

Be careful who you take advice from! There is a lot of bad advice out there, and there is a lot of good advice that is applied badly. Try to find an author that writes in the same genre that you want to write—nonfiction and fiction are nothing alike, and even different types of fiction have only a passing resemblance to each other. If you’re going to learn from someone, you need to make sure they know what you want to know.

Other than that, read as much as you can, write as much as you can!       

What project are you working on now?

Oh, I both love this question and hate it! Mainly because I have SO MANY projects right now. I try not to limit myself in the early stages of writing, so I end up starting a lot of things, only to have one project break away from the pack and become my sole focus.

One thing I do know—Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are is going to have a sequel! I’ve also been writing some short stories about people and places from Otherworld. They’re going up on the blog in the coming months!

Where can we find your writing?

Otherworld: The Book of Things That Are is available in paperback on Amazon.com

You can find my short stories on my website, naomijacksonwrites.com

Tuesday Talk – Interview with Mary Jean Adams

Mary Jean Adams, Author of Le Chevalier and other novels

Today we are honored to be interviewing Mary Jean Adams. Mary Jean joins her first love of romance with her second love of history together to create wonderful books with interesting storylines.
Welcome to my blog, Mary Jean!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I was raised in Central IL, the middle daughter of a college professor and an accountant. Though my dad was an engineering professor, he wanted to be a writer. When he went on sabbaticals to places like Brazil, he would send home these beautifully written letters that made me wish I could write even half as well as he could.

After an extended stint in Chicago and a shorter one in Washington State, I now live in North Dakota, which is a lot like Central IL, only colder. Lord willing, my husband and I will have been married 30 years next October. We have two kids, aged 20 and 17. (If you do the math, you might notice we had a few struggles in that department for a while.)

My math tells me you had a few years struggling to have children. But also that God has blessed you. 
What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?

I love reading all sorts of genres, but I will always go back to romances. Life is tough, and sometimes, I just want to be assured of a happy ending.

I still love Julie Garwood’s older Highland novels like The Gift. More recently, I’ve been plowing through Tamara Leigh’s novels, both her medieval and contemporary ones. The latter are really cute, but I like the depth of her historicals. They are also interesting because they were originally written at a higher heat level, but she went back and rewrote them as clean novels. Some of them probably fit into the inspirational category, but for the most part, I see them as great reads with some Christian elements.

What age did you realize you loved books?

While my sisters watched cartoons on Saturday mornings, I went with my mom to the library. I had to sit through a puppet show (Mom probably didn’t want me following her everywhere), but then I got to check out as many books as the library would allow. My mom and dad used to tease me that they had to turn off my light every night because I always fell asleep with a book over my face.

What made did you start writing this genre?

In 7th grade, a friend introduced me to Barbara Cartland. I know, a bit steamy for the 7th grade, but it was the late 70s. I tried my hand at writing my own material in the journal we kept for English class. I still remember the big, red “INAPPROPRIATE” that my teacher wrote at the top of the page. Needless to say, I never asked her to critique anything again!

Tell us about this book. What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

I’m going to focus on my first novel, Le Chevalier. Even though I’ve written three since then and have a fifth in the query process now, Le Chevalier remains my favorite.

As for what I learned about myself, I hope you’re not expecting something deep. I think the biggest thing I learned was that stuffing a lot of things into my brain and letting them stew around in there for a while is the best way to come up with a story idea. My idea for Le Chevalier came from three places: my fascination with the Marquis de Lafayette, reading about a Le Chevalier de Beaumont (a rather interesting historical figure to say the least) and watching an anime called Le Chevalier d’Eon, which is very loosely based on Beaumont. (very loosely)

Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?

I start with an idea and then start “sketching.” It’s not an outline per se, but a lightly written story of about 10,000 words that forms the structure of a full manuscript. Then, I go back and fill it in through about 25 rounds (or more) of edits. Rarely does the final product resemble my sketch because eventually my characters rewrite aspects of the story they don’t like.

Is there a special place you like to write?

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I often write propped up against a couple pillows on my bed. I envy those people who do videos filmed in their nice, neat offices, complete with desks, artwork, and potted plants.

That’s my favorite place to write too!
What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?
What character do you like best?

I was probably most surprised that my first book had a leading man who was French. I mean, it is an American historical and public school history classes kind of gloss over the French involvement in the American Revolution. Nevertheless, Mont Trignon remains my favorite character. One of the things I like best about him is that he resisted any attempts to turn him into a caricature of an 18th century Frenchman. In the end, he was a very sweet man, but no pushover.

What advice would you give a new author?              

Just keep writing. If you’re young, don’t lose hope, even if you have to set it aside for a few years. I first tried my hand at getting published in the early 90s, then the need to earn a living and raise a family got in the way. But I found getting published way easier twenty-five years later. Perhaps, having experienced so much more of life, my stories took on a depth they never had when I was younger.

This may sound strange to some, but I also thank God I didn’t achieve success early on. I don’t think I would have liked myself as much if I had. Even now, He finds all kinds of ways to keep me humble. (Anyone who has ever gone through the querying process knows what I am talking about!)

What project are you working on now and how do we find your books?

I am working on my first “clean read.” My previous books are steamy, meaning some love scenes, but not drawn out and not very many. The focus is more on the relationship, so unless you’re looking for purely clean romances, I doubt I will offend anyone. (Boy, that doesn’t sound very exciting, does it?)

Anyway, The Rebel’s Kiss is also set in pre-Revolutionary America. It’s part of a series called The Peacemakers where the Rebels aren’t always the good guys and the Redcoats aren’t always evil. (If you’ve ever read Pamela Clare’s early American series, MacKinnon’s Rangers, my new series takes a similar approach) While I love the history of the time period, at the end of the day, the story is about the romance.

Where can we find your books?

I usually just send people to my Amazon page – Mary Jean Adams – but my publisher made sure you can get them just about anywhere online. They are available in both ebook and paperback for those who still enjoy the tactile experience of reading.

If you’re interested in staying in touch, I’m also fairly active on social media, and I’d love to connect:

Blog: www.maryjeanadams.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6434356.Mary_Jean_Adams

Twitter: @maryjeanadams

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maryjean.adams.9

Tuesday Talks – Author Interview – Davalynn Spencer

Davalynn Spencer, Author of The Miracle Tree

Today we have Davalynn Spencer with us. Davalynn is a wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, She writes cowboy romance. She is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. And she’s fairly certain her previous career as a rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter prepared her for life in Colorado, wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I grew up a California farmer’s daughter with a love for horses. That’s probably why a handsome cowboy caught my eye.

What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?

I like stories with laughter, danger, grace, and love, and I enjoy writing the same. My next release is contemporary, but primarily I write historical/Western. Either way, there will be a cowboy in my stories. One of my favorite authors is Joanne Bischof.

What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?

I wrote my first story in the sixth grade, and my teacher used it as a skit during our annual science-conservation trip. As an adult, I wrote nonfiction pieces for rodeo-related publications and worked as a crime-beat reporter several years before pursuing my dream of fiction.

Tell us about this book. What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

This is a book of my heart – one that welled up from the inside and bubbled over onto my computer screen. For this “director’s cut” of an earlier version, I’ve included previously omitted scenes, redone the cover, and titled it with what I originally had in mind. Basically, I followed my heart and its vision for Laura Bell and Eli Hawthorne. At the end of the book, readers will find a brief explanation about my connection to the story.

Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?

Typically, my books start with a few ideas or a specific scene. I’m not much of an outline person, but once I have a sense of where I want to go, I map out the journey. It’s easier to get where you’re going if you know the way.

Is there a special place you like to write?

In the winter I write on my laptop in front of the woodstove. During the summer, I write in my office where I can see hummingbirds and deer through the window.

What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded? What character do you like best?

It’s hard to pick a favorite character because they’re like very close friends and I love them all. In The Miracle Tree I realized I’d shared a lot of things about myself—not the situations the heroine goes through, but the way she responds to them. The most surprising aspects of this book were the animals and how their interactions played out. I even had an argument with one of the dogs, but that’s a story for another time.

What advice would you give a new author?              

Never quit; keep writing.

What project are you working on now and how do we find your books?

I’m wrapping up a Christmas novella, Snow Angel.

Where can we find your books?

All my books can be found on my website at https://www.davalynnspencer.com or on my Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/Davalynn-Spencer/e/B002EZUEZK . A free novella can be accessed by signing up for my quarterly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/xa81D




Thanks For Your Patience

I want to take a moment to thank all my readers for their patience the last few weeks.  I have had a few issues with my site that hit at a very inconvenient time; when I was going out of town.

Unfortunately, this issue has led to the loss of many on my subscriber list. If you have been wiped off, I want to send my deepest apologies and ask that you resubscribe.

I ask all my loyal readers to check and make sure you are still subscribed. If you find that you need to re-enroll, please do so.  I am so sorry for the need to do this but I am very happy you are here and willing to put up with me through this issue. Please work with me and let me know what needs to be resolved and changed. If there is a problem, go to the communication tab and send me a note.

Thank you all again. Without all my wonderful readers, this site would have no purpose.  You are the reason I’m here!

Friday Fiction – The Smell of Hot Coffee

The pungent aroma of fresh coffee drifted through my dreams and nudged me awake. Willing myself to keep dreaming, I ignored the hot cup I knew my husband had set on the bedside table.

I didn’t want to get up. I wasn’t sure why. I just knew I didn’t.

I was having one of those amazing dreams that make life around you pale in comparison. I loved those dreams.

But the morning noises around me were attacking my peace, forcing me into reality. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. The sounds and smells of love are so enticing. They were wooing me and even my sleepy eyes began to smile.

I heard him topping off my hot cup and I smelt the fresh grounds. I felt the mattress dimple as he sat down next to my slumbering form and softly rub my arm, coaxing me awake.

This was my favorite time of day; feeling his love when he didn’t know I was awake enough to understand.

As my conscientiousness pushed its way through, I pressed my eyes shut. “Not yet.” I thought. “Just a little longer.”

But the cold morning air demanded attention. He had forgotten to turn on the heater this morning. That wasn’t like him.

Fully awake now, the cold room was heavy with loss.

The hot coffee my love had brought me each morning for over fifty years, was missing… and so was he.

I didn’t like the mornings anymore.

I pressed back the tears and tried without success to smell the coffee once more.